Sunday, October 19, 2008

#209 Cassius Eyewear – Believe the Hype? You Thought We Wouldn't Notice Don't...


Photo: You Thought We Wouldn't Notice

The internet is a weird and wonderful thing – we have websites dedicated to enthusiasts of anything and everything your average person could ever hope to imagine. Even so, I was fascinated to find You Thought We Wouldn't Notice, a website dedicated to breachers of intellectual copyright – specifically in the design arts. And guess who their latest target is? None other than New Zealand's own Cassius Eyewear.


Photo: Invitation to Cassius Eyewear's NZ launch party

And like Mr Clay, Cassius' namesake, they haven't pulled any punches. In a post that points out the, ahem, similarities between Cassius' debut collection of sunglasses and famous heritage sunglasses, You Thought We Wouldn't Notice wrote:

"It seems we have a bad case of some kiwi’s given it a good ol poke. they have released their first “collection” of sunglasses. only instead of doing something unique they decided to “take inspiration” from some of the best known sunglass designs in History. im sure that you would all notice the Original Persol 649 that was notoriously worn by Steve McQueen. or Maybe the most well known of all the Cazal 607. worn by Run DMC! As you can see the list goes on. hey inspiration is one thing. but releasiing designs as your own that look VERY similar heritage sunglass designs for your debut collection is just plain silly, shame on you cassius."

Call it copying, call it appropriating or call it referencing, but I'd be surprised to hear anyone call it incorrect. You Thought We Wouldn't Notice did, and this blogger thinks they're onto something.

In their own press release for the launch of the brand, Cassius said the following, and I will highlight the ironic words:

"Embodying a sense of nonconformity, and reviving a style and class of eyewear long forgotten by the major fashion houses, Cassius makes a unique departure from the proliferation of generic branded eyewear on the market. Founder and creative director Jason Ng references the look and attitude of the 1960’s and 70’s but for a new generation of modern consumer, filling a niche for the avid vintage collectors and eyewear connoisseurs who want individuality, classic styling and quality."

Despite the bad press, Cassius Eyewear appears to be doing pretty well, with, according to them, stockists in "Edmonton, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, Osaka, Rotterdam, San Francisco, Sydney and Tokyo". And why wouldn't they be? Those styles have, after all, proven to be pretty popular in the past.

28 comments:

Kate said...

Very interesting... I tried on a pair of those Persol's this weekend.

Anonymous said...

i bought a pair and i really like them. maybe those international stockists aren't as narrow minded as new zealanders, don't you think? and shouldn't we be supporting our own people?

Anonymous said...

Caught toally red-handed.. I've seen worse examples of rip-offs though.. what about like Le Specs and all those other companies that rip-off the Wayfarer shapes? No one seems too fussed about that, is it because so many different companies have done it there's no point in singling anyone out or something?
I wonder if Cassisus will release a statement or anything. or just not bother. did you get in touch with them or anything?

Anonymous said...

erm.. they are not "similar".. they are exactly the same.. How could we take Cassius seriously if Jason Ng copys other designs?

Isaac Likes said...

I agree with Anonymous above, they have been caught red-handed. As for why nobody seems too fussed about companies like Le Specs doing the same thing, I'd assume that everyone's so used to chain store brands ripping other people off – most trends come straight off the catwalk and into the High St stores within weeks – that it's too common to be noticeable anymore.

We have a different situation when it's a brand that is launching itself in the directional, higher end of the market.

Rebekah said...

Brands like Le Specs or other vertical chain stores that deal in affordable fashion eyewear don't necessarily directly copy designs, because they're clever enough to know that that's a one-way ticket to trouble.

It's like the debate we had a week or two ago; I don't think anyone can be singled out at the moment for designing a Wayfarer-esque shape as its a ubiquitous style and has been re-hashed in many, many forms over the past few years.

However Cassius's designs are so blatantly copied from old designs, down to the colour of the materials and the components, their size, proportions etc, that it's a bit hard for them to say they were merely 'inspired' by a specific shape or model of eyewear.

Charcoal said...

Hmm. There's a new entry up now concerning Dries van Noten and Trelise Cooper! I wonder how that'll go down?

Anonymous said...

How are they pricing themselves? Is it pretty affordable? I haven't set foot in a sunglass store in a long time.
Oh yeah, 'you thought we wouldn't notice' what a great idea for a website

Isaac Likes said...

http://shop.cassiuseyewear.com
The Cassius Eyewear pricing ranges from $160 – $169 (USD).

Anonymous said...

Cassius hasn't directly copied either. The Persol 'inspired' design has left out the little silver bits connection the arms.. let's all give them a round of applause for that stroke of genius.
If you're gonna copy something you could at least try and make it better, or more affordable.. Why try and compete at the same price point with the original. Not the wisest of decisions.

for that money as well you're way better off getting Ksubi sunglasses or Karen Walker.. they do some really cool shapes at pretty good prices I reckon. It's expensive, but for what you're getting compared to the luxury brands it's a great deal.

Anonymous said...

I just checked out the post with Cassius and Trelise Cooper and I think it's pretty sad that the Kiwi's are the first to put their hands up to rip in to their own lol.
If you're going to do that them you might as well mention Zambesi & Martin Margeila - they've been doing that for years; last year's FW Huffer looked like a Karen Walker collection I've seen before (even the denim and Swandri-ish fabrication); fashion is a cycle and recycle, get off you high horse. In my job I've seen it all.
That said its still not going to stop me from buying Zambesi, Cassius or Trelise Cooper because I might not like the whole collection, but there'll be some pieces I like.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's always a bad thing to be quick to criticise our own, especially if they aren't being as creative as they should be. Perhaps we are quick to criticise our own because we expect better from them, and why shouldn't we expect better?
Believe me I wouldn't hesitate to point out blatant copying of two international labels if I saw it.

Anonymous said...

I own a pair of sunglasses I bought in Europe a couple of months ago that are exactly the same as a pair of Cassius's.. he's not the first to copy them.
But yes.. he has copied.
Not inspired.
What ever.. most people in NZ copy.. although I don't really agree with the Margiela Zambesi thing below

rebekah said...

You must admit though, it's pretty weak that Cassius came out with the whole "we're the new cool kids" line when they just rip off others. They could have at least tried designing something new before they came out with an 'old favourites' collection where they could have knocked off a few classics. At least then they could have cranked up their PR and said they were paying homage to the old styles.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Kiwis who copy without due reference, check out Runway Reporter's 'Breaking News' story on this very same issue, which they claim was brought to their attention by You Thought We Wouldn't Notice. No mention of Isaac Likes

zoe said...

Hi Anon - I think you might find that the whole issue was bought to the attention of both Isaac Likes and Runway Reporter by Murray Bevan. Well, he sent me an email with a link, so I'm only assuming that is the case.
Cheers, Zoe

Madame Zereakian said...

In a world full of constant reinvention, I don't personally feel they should be singled out. It is unfortunate that they didn't change colour, shape, or anything really for that matter on THREE pairs (at least :-P). If they had been a little bit more clever in their marketing scheme perhaps stating "many of our ideas are taken from 60's/70's designs currently hard to come by in any sort of form that is not hugely expensive dead stock or cheap - fall apart in a week - style". Then they could have played it out like that and saved much embarassment. Marketing is the key to get away with such direct referencing in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

In regards to anonymous "Huffer looked like a Karen Walker collection I've seen before (even the denim and Swandri-ish fabrication); fashion is a cycle and recycle, get off you high horse."

Remember Karen Walker didn't create the swandri print...

Also huffer has been doing denim for years and years. Was one of the first fashion items they did after t-shirts.

I saw the collection form last years fashion week and it didn't remind me of Karen Walker what so ever.

Although i do agree fashion is a circle of people recycling ideas, although blatant copying isn't the same as referencing another designer.

ThoughtWeWouldn'tNotice said...

Yeah! totally agree what Madame Zereakian said above, What Jason Ng did wrong was, even though Runwayreporter and Thought We Wouldn't Notice gave a chance for Jason to talk about it, he just lied again again again (digging the hole for himself).

He should just say "yep, the designs came from the eyewears i loved but can't get them any more etc so i revived them so ppl can buy them". instead of "i got inspired of the 60's and 70's architecture bullshit.

well.. i guess he's a newbie to the fashion industry..

Isaac Likes said...

I have also contacted Cassius Eyewear a number of times to get a comment on the allegations but nobody has come back to me as of yet.

Anonymous said...

what I find more interesting is that Murray Bevan would deliberately email a number of media with a link to a site that slags off a sunglass range... one, that strangely he doesn't represent (would we have heard about this in the first place if murray did represent it??), and two, that might be seen as a competitor to Karen Walker's eyewear that he DOES represent. interesting.

Anonymous said...

to anon above - do you honestly think karen walker would rip something off as blatantly as cassius has?

the question should be who told murray about this? hes part of our industry and if hes going to provide a good point of conversation and a bit of scandal then keep it up murray! i don't think that this was a sinister act like anon above is insinuating...just getting a story out there so we all have something to read....

back to the topic at hand....jason ng (where the heck did he come from anyway) really needs to take a look at what hes producing and his marketing plan. these glasses are not cheap and if he would be honest about them being reincarnations he would probably gain a bit more cred don't you think?

Anonymous said...

i think its interesting that murray bevan would intentionally email the link to EVERYONE - hey there's someone else out there after a slice of the eyewear market so is he out to sabotage, cover his own a** because he perceives a threat. if that's the case then i don't have much respect for him as a PR person, he job is to represent with integrity the labels he represents, not go out and sabotage and talk s**t about something he has nothing to do with.
and as far as cassius, who really cares seriously; the whole aim of marketing is creating a buzz, getting people talking about the product - regardless of how they went about doing it, reading the backlog of comments here, don't you think they achieved it?

Anonymous said...

Since when is emailing the link to a story considered sabotage?
It's not like he went on Campbell Live and gave an interview about it. He brought something to the attention of some people who work in fashion media, and probably a whole bunch of his friends as well.

What they did with the information is their own perogative.

Anonymous said...

The Anon who wrote this...

"i think its interesting that murray bevan would intentionally email the link to EVERYONE - hey there's someone else out there after a slice of the eyewear market so is he out to sabotage, cover his own a** because he perceives a threat. if that's the case then i don't have much respect for him as a PR person, he job is to represent with integrity the labels he represents, not go out and sabotage and talk s**t about something he has nothing to do with.
and as far as cassius, who really cares seriously; the whole aim of marketing is creating a buzz, getting people talking about the product - regardless of how they went about doing it, reading the backlog of comments here, don't you think they achieved it?"

...is Jason Ng!!!

Isaac Likes said...

Can the people who are posting nasty negative comments about individuals please refrain? The intention of this post has never been about talking about the designer personally, it's about the brand.

I will not post comments that are abusive.

As for the comment above, there is no shred of evidence that Jason Ng wrote the comment in question, so I wouldn't take it too seriously.

Bill said...

Who cares? Designers copy and rip each other off all the time. If one likes the product, buy it. If not, shut up about it. It's just fashion we're talking about here. Big whoop!

Even the so-called innovators take inspiration from elsewhere, and it's often very obvious where they took it from.

Frederick said...

yeah i think this post is lame.
i like the eyewear.
i've lived in nz before and you guys definitely have this weird clicky tall poppy syndrome thing
join the real world.